DECEMBER 1944, THE BATTLE OF THE BULGE
John Fawcett ran through the snow as two German Panzer tanks crashed through scrub behind him.
Gotta go, he thinks.
The American, his hands and face covered in blood, a crazed expression upon his face, a horror deep within his eyes, flees. The enemy were smashing through their lines everywhere. Fawcett remembers how they held out but then...it's almost a blank to me.
His thoughts trail off as bulletts rip up the snow behind him. He takes cover behind a pine tree, breathing heavily; he tries to regain his composure.
All dead. He looks at his blood covered hands, slowly shaking his head - it's not his blood - well not all of it. His eyes look up at the night sky; it's always the same, just a different battlefield. The names, he can't remember the names, he knows they are there - they always are. Balshilek - that was one, but that was long ago. Shadad - Cooper. He tries to block them out but it's like trying to catch a deluge in a paper cup. Byrne, Cedric, LaMarr, Wellington, Foster, Reinhardt, Nobunaga, Douglas, Garrett, Alder, an endless stream of tormented souls.
A twig snaps. Fawcett reaches for his firearm realizing that he's lost it. He quickly withdraws his bayonet. Time to kill. How many times has he thought those words he wonders?
A shadowy figure, armed and wearing a combat helmet creeps out from behind a tree a few feet away. Fawcett holds his breath, not making a sound or movement. The figure moves closer, obviously looking for someone.
"Fawcett", the voice of the figure calls out in English. Fawcett leaps out from his hiding spot and plunges his bayonet repeatdly into the unknown figure.
"Feuer - Feuer!" A German voice shouts out in the distance. The night is lit up by a flare. Moments later the deadly whistling sound of incoming mortar fills the air. A missile hits the tops of the trees and explodes.
Fawcett is showered by burning branches and snow. He takes off again. More missiles are fired from the German tanks that have him in their sights. Night has become day thanks to the flare. The forest begins to explode all around him; he covers his head with his arms in an attempt to protect himself.
Fawcett dashes through bushes that tug at his already torn uniform. At the point of mental and physical exhaustion, he is running on nothing other than adrenalin. Always running - always fighting and they are always chasing him.
The flare peters out. Night returns. Fawcett feels himself being lifted up by the tremendous force of a nearby explosion and flung through the air. Will I ever be rid of war, or will war be rid of me? This is the last thought in his head as the world around him goes black and he tumbles into oblivion.
Copyright © 2010 Peter Jessop
Published by The Black Leaf Publishing Group